Friday’s White House press briefing sent viewers into the weekend with a bang as Fox’s Peter Doocy showed a rare moment of anger as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre blatantly and repeatedly refused to answer his question as to whether President Biden believes in any limit to abortion.
Doocy began as he always does with a basic, rather innocuous question. This time, it touched on her opening remarks lambasting the 15-week abortion ban proposed by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “Following up on your topper, does President Biden favor any limits on abortion?”
Jean-Pierre said “[w]e've been very, very clear” in “talking specifically about” Graham’s plan, but Doocy interjected to push her along: “And your position on his plan is clear. 15 weeks is unacceptable.”
She then continued: “I was speaking to — directly to what Republicans are trying to do. They are calling — they are calling — they are calling for a national ban, which takes us backwards.”
Continuing to stammer her way along, Doocy fact-checked her by noting Graham’s proposal is only for 15 weeks and not an outright ban.
Jean-Pierre continued to lie, claiming “it's a national ban, which will take us backwards and will put at risk the health of women” and would be the first step by “extreme Republican officials” in ending “privacy” and “contraception” and attacking “marriage” (as in gay and interracial marriages).
“I'm not going to get into specifics here. I’m just going to lay out what — what they have said that they’re going to do,” she hilariously added.
Doocy seized on that nonsense: “Why not get into specifics? The Republicans are saying we don't want abortion after 15 weeks. Why can't you say how many weeks the President thinks the limit is?”
Jean-Pierre again diverted by invoking House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the House GOP’s Commitment to America, but Doocy wasn’t having it, saying he’s “not asking about Kevin McCarthy” and instead about “Joe Biden and his position on abortion.”
After being asked one last time “how many weeks,” Jean-Pierre filibustered with a meandering answer about Republicans “trying to take away the rights and freedoms of Americans.” Doocy tried to push back, but Jean-Pierre moved on to Bloomberg Government’s Courtney Rozen.
Doocy almost always complies when Jean-Pierre (or Jen Psaki) would move on, but not on this day as he exclaimed, “[y]ou did not answer my question” (click “expand”):
JEAN-PIERRE: Peter — Peter, I'm answering your question. What Republicans are trying to do is take us backwards. They're trying to take away the rights and freedoms of Americans. That's what we're calling out and that’s what we’re going to continue to call out. House Republicans oppose a pharmacy bill that would deny women essential medications. As of September, 166 House Republicans have signed onto a heartbeat bill that would decide abortion at the federal level even though 28 of those members have since said decisions on abortion should be left to the states. And just this week, a Michigan GOP official said he — he — he wants to ban abortion. So, we should really listen to what Republicans are trying to tell us.
DOOCY: And —
JEAN-PIERRE: And that’s what we are speaking out against —
DOOCY: — and —
JEAN-PIERRE: — and that’s what we’re going to talk about the national ban —
DOOCY: — and we’re —
JEAN-PIERRE: — that Republicans are continuing —
DOOCY: — we are —
JEAN-PIERRE: — continuing to push when majority of Americans do not want that. I —
DOOCY: We are all covering the Republican plan.
DOOCY: I’m just wondering —
JEAN-PIERRE [TO COURTNEY ROZEN]: Go ahead. Go ahead.
DOOCY: — why can't you say how many weeks for Biden?
COURTNEY ROZEN: Thank you, Karine.
JEAN-PIERRE [TO ROZEN]: Okay, go ahead.
JEAN-PIERRE: No. [TO ROZEN] Go ahead.
DOOCY: No. Why —
JEAN-PIERRE: I answered — I answered your question. [TO ROZEN] Go ahead. Go ahead, Courtney.
DOOCY: You did not answer my question, Karine.
ROZEN: I wanted —
JEAN-PIERRE: I did. I did.
DOOCY: Why can't —
JEAN-PIERRE: [TO ROZEN] Go ahead, Courtney.
DOOCY: — you say —
Earlier in the briefing, Reuters’s Jeff Mason sought White House reaction on the day’s porous financial news, but Jean-Pierre insisted the economy was strong thanks to “one of the strongest job markets on record” and “record” growth.
Fox Business’s Edward Lawrence followed up a little later, wondering if this “stable growth the President is moving us toward” is reflected in the Federal Reserve’s projection that the U.S. economy will suffer in “slow[ing] down to growing just 0.2 percent for the entirety of this year and then 1.2 percent for next year.”
Jean-Pierre continued the tone deafeness, saying it was natural because of 2021's “historic economic growth” and that the Fed will “bring down inflation...without sacrificing all of the historic gains that we made.”
Lawrence had one more inflation question, citing last week’s White House event celebrating the Inflation Reduction Act with James Taylor and another event Friday night with Elton John even though “Americans are making touch choices” regarding their finances (click “expand”):
LAWRENCE: On inflation, one more, if I could: the — Americans are making tough choices related to inflation and last week, they saw the President do the celebration during the Inflation Reduction Act when core inflation for the 1st time in 5 months on that day. This week, there's another celebration 48 hours after the Fed chairman said there'd be more economic pain. Is that optics of those two celebrations insensitive to what Americans are going through?
JEAN-PIERRE: So, the President has always, when he talks about the economy, has made clear to understand what the American families are going through, what the American people are going through. He understands that the economic and inflation in particular — high costs is — is — is giving some pain, to your point, to Americans. That is why we passed, that is why Democrats in Congress passed Inflation Reduction Act. By the way, no Republicans supported that. And, as you know, we’ve heard me say it many times, you’ve heard the President say it many times, it is going to lower costs when it comes to prescription drugs. It’s going to lower health care costs and energy costs. And it is one of the most — the most historic investment to fight climate change as we are talking about extreme weather. I’ve gotten multiple questions on Puerto Rico and what the people from Puerto Rico — brothers and sisters — are going through. What — what may happen in this hurricane season, a lot of that is going to be helped by the work that this President has done. Bipartisan infrastructure law. Again, the Inflation Reduction Act. So, we are doing the work. We are going to continue to do that. We’re going to continue to work. We’ve seen gas prices go down for 14 weeks straight and that, again, is because of the work that this President is doing. So, yes, we understand what the American people are going through, but our job, the President’s job, is to do everything that he can in his power to give Americans a little bit more breathing room.
To see the relevant transcript from September 23's briefing (including a lame question from Bloomberg knocking U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss’s economic plan), click here.